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Terrifically Terroir-Driven Sancerre from Alphonse Mellot

Great Sancerre, where perfectly ripened Sauvignon Blanc is seamlessly draped on a firm mineral core, has the power to transport us.

While it’s tempting to describe wines of this caliber as magical, in actuality, they are an earthly synergy of hard work, expert farming and exceptional terroir. All these elements are found in spades at the estate of Alphonse Mellot.

Alphonse is the nineteenth generation of his family to tend vines in Sancerre, and while he could have coasted on the power of his family's name (and the inherent marketability of the Sancerre brand), he's chosen a road less traveled — the labor intensive, economically risky path of biodynamic farming. In a region where mass production in the name of profit is common, his rejection of synthetic herbicides, pesticides and mechanical harvesting is a bold move. Alphonse and his neighbors at Vacheron are among just a handful of Sancerre producers to work in this manner.

Such dedication makes a difference. By prizing the health and integrity of his land, Mellot renders singular wines of grace and balance that are veritable blueprints of regional terroir.

Even if we think of Sancerre as a monolith, the geology (and resulting terroir) is nothing if not complex. The town of Sancerre (where Mellot’s cellars are located) is on top of a hill, under which runs a narrow band of silex or flint. Nearby vineyards (and the wines they produce) are often characterized as flinty; many of them are.

The famed La Moussière vineyard is the hub of Mellot's domaine, a grand, thirty hectare, south-facing site outside the town. The soil here (as described by Mellot) is a unique composition of Marnes de Saint Doulchard, soils of iron-rich marl and limestone, studded with fossils of ammonites and other seashells.The wines are aromatically precise, concentrated and generous.

Typically, a single vineyard bottling would be an estate's exclusive, higher end offering. An entry-level wine is made in greater volume; a blend of several different sites offers pleasure to the drinker, as well as an idea of the producer's style, but often lacks terroir specificity.

But Mellot’s entry level “La Moussière" is a single vineyard wine, drawn from the same terroir as his top wines and made with the same diligence. It exhibits all the focus and depth to be expected from this remarkable site. We encourage you to experience this pure, expressive single vineyard bottling from one of Sancerre’s greatest masters at a village level price.

Alphonse Mellot “La Moussière” 2019 $29.99 $25.99
While the 2019 vintage in Sancerre was hot and dry, there is a marked level of balancing acidity and finesse as compared to 2018. “La Moussière” 2019 is lush, fresh and exotic, offering a nose of spiced pear, salted butter and seashell, gracefully intertwined with a crystalline palate of kiwi, and honeydew. A beguiling hint of roasted chestnut keeps us coming back for more. Partial barrel fermentation and oak aging lend structure, polish and ageability to this poised and generous, (dare we say magical?) wine.